Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Our Christmas

We decided to do a different Christmas celebration this year. Instead of partying at home, we decided to stay at a hotel. We liked this alternate plan and might do it again next year.

Entrance to the hotel

Our kids had the adjoining room. This is our room.

Park lights from above:
my Christmas morning hot chocolate

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Book Review: a "Stupid" Book

Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin

A young woman who had been kidnapped and abused as a child is now free physically but not emotionally (yet). Then a young girl who looks a lot like the young woman is kidnapped, and the young woman becomes entangled in the search.

A quick read, not my usual genre. I am tired of books in which girls/women are victims. Writing them to emerge strong doesn't change the fact that they were victims of cruel men (not to say this character emerged strong). Let's change the model.

2.5 stars out of a possible five. I kept telling my husband "this is a stupid book" (not well written). I don't know why I kept reading it, except just to hurry so I could get on to other books.

Will I manage to finish another book while it is still 2019?? Let's see...……..

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Book Reviews

Under Ground by Megan Marsnik

I found this book at the library and was glad to get an interesting, Minnesota-related book I had not previously heard of.

A young woman from Slovenia emigrates to the USA, specifically to a small mining town in northern Minnesota. Mining is the main employment there. The company takes advantage of the miners, paying them badly, ignoring safety precautions, housing them in company-owned, ramshackle shacks, doing anything they can to make a profit at the expense of the workers. Finally the workers get fed up and go on strike.

The incidents described in this book are historically accurate. The town, Biwabik, is an actual mining town in Minnesota. The strike and the events described here are historically accurate. The story is fictionalized by combining events or making composite characters who experience what really happened. The history was well researched; the book was written by a woman who is a descendant of Slovenian immigrant miners. It was an interesting book; I enjoyed the glimpse into Minnesota history and especially enjoyed the perspective of women's role in supporting and advancing the union cause.

A thought about my previous post: thank you so much for the kind comments. I really appreciate your notes. You are all correct; depression is complicated and difficult to solve. I'm doing a little better and hope that I continue to improve. Friends and family are helping.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Turns Out I Was Right

[featuring random pictures of quilts made by me]

Once upon a time there was a woman named Carol who loved quilts and wished she could make some by herself. She didn't consider trying, because, she thought, "I'm not patient enough." With the encouragement of friends and her mother, Carol finally decided to try. Her first attempt was a pot holder (haha.. it turned into a quilt).

After that she was hooked and has been making quilts like crazy ever since. It has been 20 years and 4 months, and she is still going strong. Or is she?

That Carol is me, of course. Lately I have been feeling uninspired.

I know, slumps are normal. I go through them periodically and just wait.. eventually I once again get enthused.

In recent weeks I have been dealing with some major-ish depression. I'm getting help with it, but it is causing me to ponder and re-think everything about my life. This includes my quilting.

When I see all the gorgeous things other quilters create, I realize, "I will never make that. I'm not patient enough." So, while my quilts are pretty, and I enjoy making them, and people seem to appreciate them, I will never achieve that awesome level that so many have achieved and seem to maintain. It turns out I was right about myself. I'm just not patient enough.

I don't have what it takes to do the projects that require stick-to-it-ive-ness. Once in a while strange things happen, and I make a masterpiece. I have done that twice. Most of what I make, however, is "nice." I think I'm OK with that. I don't need to be famous; I don't need to be making top-of-the-line awesomeness every time I sit down at my machine.

my masterpiece

I get the most joy out of making charity quilts. I love to make them pretty. After all, poor and/or sick kids deserve some beauty in their lives, too. I have never uttered the words "it's just for charity" in the sense of making ugly stuff is OK because it's for charity.

Meanwhile I'm waiting for my enthusiasm to return. I have been sewing, but I can only manage the mindless stuff. Things that don't require careful 1/4-inch seams, for example. Scrappy stuff. Quick stuff. While the depression rages on, it's all I can manage.

And when I get back to being enthused, I will be happy with "nice" and accept the fact that I am not patient enough to achieve that certain level of art and beauty that I so admire in other people's work. To be honest, I'm even OK with not being patient enough to do that type of sewing.

Charity quilting is what makes me happiest. Meanwhile, I'm trying to remember how to feel happy. It's just one of those dips in life. While being not fine, I'm fine. Things will look up once again.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Friday, December 06, 2019

Giving Away Quilts

Recently I decided that I own way too many quilts. Most of what I make is for donation to charities, but occasionally I will keep a quilt for our household. I had not noticed that the number of "keeps" was getting quite high -- so many that we couldn't possibly use them all. Therefore I decided to give some away, and let me tell you, it was SUPER FUN!

I took some with me to our Thanksgiving gathering and offered them to my nieces and others. To be honest, I was surprised at how happy they were to choose a quilt from the pile. It was fun for me to watch.

Nieces and my first-cousin-once-removed

Next I sent this one to a former co-worker. I knew she would be blown away. She always has the nicest comments about my quilts, but never in a million years thought I would send her one. I sent her this artsy one that seemed to be her favorite style. This is what she said on Facebook:
When an old (as in, from long ago) friend makes and gifts you a *perfect,* GORGEOUS, exactly-you quilt just out of the blue (pun only partly intended) and for no particular reason other than she’s amazing...OMG, Carol! *T*H*A*N*K* *Y*O*U*!!!

Then she changed her Facebook profile picture to this one, with the following caption:
The amazing Carol Egan made this for my Human. I know. I can’t believe it, either.

Then I sent this one to an old (as in, from long ago) - [see how I borrowed the above person's wording?] - friend from high school days. She is also a quilter, so it's not that she needed a quilt from me. I just wanted to communicate my appreciation of her, and this more traditional pattern seemed right, in my mind, for her. There's even a block that says "I love quilting," appropriate for her.

And finally I sent these two quilts, along with some other gifts and supplies for Christmas, to Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.

This was surprisingly fun and satisfying for me. I recommend it! Do you have a pile of quilts not being used? Try surprising people with the gift of a quilt. They and you will have a blast.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Book Review: The Dutch House

I definitely got lucky! I went to the library and found The Dutch House by Ann Patchett on the Lucky U shelf. This is highly sought-after books that one can borrow for only one week. I was on a waiting list for this book but was well over patron #150 on the waiting list. So finding it on the Lucky U shelf was quite a coup. I read it so quickly that I will be able to get it right back to the library and into some other lucky person's grasp.

I read this book in 24 hours. It is fabulous. The story covers a family over a time span of about 50 years. The story explores issues of inheritance, family values, how much do our family experiences shape us or haunt us, do we always live in their shadow or can we transcend where we come from, forgiveness, gaining insight into oneself, etc. I loved the characters and their ups and downs. I loved the family saga that also had its ups and downs.. so much to relate to and think about. Very well-written book to which I award five of five stars.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Stuff I Have Been Doing

In early October I had two quilts hanging in a local show. I took pictures, but then I got a new phone and managed to lose a whole ton of pictures in the process. Boo hoo. This is one of the quilts I hung (and that you have seen before). I wish I could show you some of the other beauties that were in the show.

In mid-October I helped with a "vacation Bible school" type event at our church. It took place during two traditional school days off when parents sometimes have trouble finding places for their kids on two work days. There were several fun activities and meals/snacks.

I have been sewing as I can fit it in, as usual. Two baby quilts and an unquilted top:

Lotto blocks for Sunshine:

My cousin started a new quilting group at her church, and I attended. I think I will be a regular participant; we'll see. Here are some pictures from Show and Tell at our first meeting.

Last week I was on a retreat with friends. I got a lot of tops put together; most had been prepped but never completely sewn together. It felt good to get them done.

And I have been reading! I had to do some marathon reading this weekend, to start and finish the book that my book club will discuss this week. I finished it today. Whew!

That's all for now, folks!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Book Review: The Girls are Gone

The Girls are Gone by Michael Brodkorb and Allison Mann

This could have been an interesting story, but... reading it was a slog. Most of the book is detailed accounts of very messed up and convoluted court appearances. A seemingly happy family spirals into chaos when the mom decides to get a divorce and spews incorrect, harmful, and disdainful stories mostly about her ex-husband but even some about her own kids. Her attorney is on her same level of craziness. It's a mess for years as they fight for custody of the kids. For well over two years, two of the five children are abducted and hidden.

I felt voyeuristic, nosing into the details of this chaotic situation, especially since the family lives in a suburb not too far from me. I feel bad knowing all the dirty dealings that happened within their family (99.9% perpetrated by the mom). I also was bored with all the lengthy court descriptions, many times told in verbatim conversations. I skimmed over a lot of it.

An unsettling side point: the mom's ineffective/dishonest attorney is still practicing law in Minnesota. I don't understand why she has not been disbarred.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Thank You, Long Arm Quilters!

I love quilters who have long arms! Don't you? Of course, I mean long-arm quilting machines.

Another long-armer has volunteered to finish some tops. These will be going to Wrap-a-Smile. I so appreciate offers like this, because I enjoy making tops but not finishing the quilts. I do what I can to finish some, but I'm slow and very basic, and I can't afford to send them all out to be done professionally. So I rely on volunteer long-arm quilters to help save the day. When a new long-arm volunteer steps forward, I rejoice!

Today I sent these four tops to our new volunteer:


Mendota (made at the Sunshine retreat last June)

8-patch (I copied a block I saw at Covered With Love blog)

Random (made from leftover squares)

Also, my cousin has a new long-arm and is helping. I sent her this one recently. It is for Quilts Beyond Borders:

When these quilts are done, I will bind them and send them off to cuddle some kids.